There is NO WAY to get FREE CABLE TV over the air, with an HDTV antenna. It is not possible to get HGTV, The History Channel, AMC, CMT, TVLand, and those other types of channels over an HDTV antenna! I wish these websites and these phony ads would stop fooling people into buying these “magic sticks” and “magic TV” antennas claiming that they will be able to watch CNN, TNT, TBS, The Science Channel, Biography, National Geographic, etc. without paying a cable company. It is NOT TRUE. They can stream whatever with a subscription, but guess what? THEY STILL NEED TO PAY THE CABLE COMPANY FOR INTERNET ACCESS AND THAT COSTS ABOUT $80 A MONTH WHEN YOU CANCEL THE BUNDLES!
The problem with Netflix is that the catalog of (non-original) films and TV shows is constantly in flux as the studio and networks play games, look for better terms, or set up exclusives on other services. We can't guarantee an entire series or movie will be there forever. But original programming makes Netflix a destination, giving it not only market share, but mind share, the likes of which only HBO can rival.
“We cut out cable and tried to replace it with just streaming options, then with those plus PlayStation Vue (because they were the only option for live sports). That was a bust because the internet streaming couldn’t keep up with the speed of most sports, plus the DVR options were abysmal [which made missing live game broadcasts not an option]. So we went back! We are the proud payers of a DIRECTV bill and I’m not even sad about it.” ― Stephanie Bowen Earley
I literally watch 90+% of my TV on Hulu for the past several years. I quit cable in 2006. Subscribed to Netflix streaming, and then Hulu Plus as soon as it came out in 2010, but found myself watching most stuff on Hulu. I even quit Netflix for 3 years from 2014 to 2017 because I never watched it. I watched everything on Hulu and signed up for the commercial free subscription as soon as Hulu rolled it out. I signed back up for Netflix for 4K content, but I still hardly watch it. In the last 6 months the only things I’ve watched on Netflix were Better Call Saul season 3, a few episodes of Arrested Development, a couple of episodes of The Break with Michelle Wolf, and Thor Ragnarok. Still watch most stuff on Hulu.
While we haven't paid for cable TV, we haven't exactly been deprived, or had to watch only the shows offered by the over the air networks. There are tons of free video options out there! In fact, we actually still watch a lot of the same shows that our friends do. How do we do it you ask? Through a combination of free over-the-air digital TV, free online video services (the legal kind), a video streaming software, super low-cost internet service from FreedomPop, and a Xbox. FreedomPop is a low cost alternative to larger Internet service providers. Right now their plans might be too small for heavy video streaming users, but they're definitely on their way to bigger and better offerings – and they're definitely good enough if you only stream shows a few times a month. You can read more about them on their site.
One big advantage Roku offers though is a choice of four models ranging in features and price, from the $50 Roku LT to the faster and higher resolution $100 Roku 3. With over 1,000 channels, Roku has long had an edge over its Apple rival in terms of content, but unsurprisingly, many channels are of limited appeal. While it lacks support for iTunes, Roku counters with the Amazon Instant video store (unavailable on Apple TV). Roku also offers both a PBS and PBS Kids channel.
I just dumped my cable tv service three days ago after they suddenly raised my monthly bill $25 to $194 per month for tv, internet, and phone. By dropping the tv and inquiring about a discount on my internet, my bill will be around $81 per month for 10Mps internet and VOIP phone. I am considering dropping my landline and using my tracfone cell phone only, which would shave off another $35 per month.
My college age kid went into a bit of shock for the first few days and then found time to spend at a local bookstore (I see that as an improvement). I did invest in a regular ole’ antenna for the TV, so I can catch the local channels (which are about 50 here in TX), and after reading your article purchased a Roku 3. My kid has an Xbox, Wii, and PS3 so streaming online content was already possible, I got the Roku for the main television and not to cause another issue of “shell shock” by taking over the kid’s PS3.
We ran into a weird issue when we tried pausing a live stream. It let us pause our show (because when you gotta go, you gotta go), but when we tried to resume and pushed play, the app skipped us ahead to the live stream. We ran into this problem only with live streams and not with on-demand shows and movies, We’re hoping this issue goes away when the cloud DVR feature launches, We’ll see. Right now it makes for a somewhat buggy experience.
Our site publishes a ton of articles, though, so writing just one page on the same subject means we have an awful lot to cover. Thankfully, the best methods for watching TV without cable can be grouped together and simplified in pretty helpful ways. That's what we're going to do in the sections below – but, first, it's time for a brief moment of self-examination.
You’re right. Cable TV and satellite TV costs have increased over the years and it’s out of reach for people who can’t afford it. Also, if you’re busy and don’t watch too much TV it doesn’t make sense to pay more than you should for the service. However, all is not lost. There’re many good deals out there. So do your research and the math before cutting the cord.
At the beginning of January 2009, the print edition of TV Guide quietly removed its listings for TV Guide Network (and several other broadcast and cable networks) over what the magazine's management described as "space concerns". In actuality, the two entities had been forced apart by their new, individual owners, with promotions for the network ending in the magazine, and vice versa. TV Guide magazine journalists also no longer appeared on TV Guide Network. The top-line "plug" for the network did, however, remain intact on the websites of internet-based listings providers using TV Guide's EPG listings. TV Guide Network's program listings returned to TV Guide magazine in June 2010, with its logo prominently placed within the grids.
I was a loyal cable TV customer for all of my adult life, paying about $34/month for basic cable (which sounds ludicrously cheap now). Then I moved to a different city where the cost was $52/month for basic cable. I paid it and figured, “well, that’s just the cost of getting TV”. More and more, however, I realized that I wasn’t getting good TV. I was just surfing through the channels over and over looking for good TV. Then, my 6-month “introductory cable rate” ended and my cable bill went up to $57/month. Sure, it was only a few dollars more, but that was the last straw. After a few months of putting up with the higher cost and lack of good shows, I decided to “Disable My Cable” and try broadcast digital TV. The first thing I tried was an old rabbit-ear antenna that I had from the pre-digital TV days… Read the rest of my story here.
Local broadcast channels are still available for free over the air. All you need is a digital TV antenna and a TV with a digital tuner (which is standard on pretty much any TV purchased within the last decade). If you’ve got a TV older than that, you can still receive broadcast channels, but you’ll need a digital-to-analog converter box along with your digital antenna.
RT is one of several international channels to challenge the United States media's global news coverage. In 2010 Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the U.S. Government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia), called for more money to invest into the programs because, "We can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies," mentioning specifically Russia Today, Iran's Press TV and China's China Central Television (CCTV) in the next sentence. He later explained he actually was referring to "enemies" in Afghanistan, not the nations he mentioned. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States was "losing the information war" abroad to foreign channels like RT, Al Jazeera and China Central Television and that they are supplanting the Voice of America.
Just because you subscribe to cable or satellite doesn't mean you have to use the provided set-top box. In an effort to become part of the cord-cutting landscape, many of the major cable and satellite providers, who double as internet service providers, let users subscribe and then access all programing via apps rather than the cable box or even the tuner in the TV.
Another often-ignored cord cutting technology is the indoor TV antenna, the modern equivalent of the old-school “rabbit ears,” which can cost under $10 and gives free access to network content. It’s not on-demand (unless you shell out extra for a recording device), but for live events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, having an antenna could be a lifesaver.
Again, streaming copyrighted content without the proper access is maybe not completely on the straight-and-narrow (depending on who you ask). Hey, we’re not here to judge. We’re just here to tell you how you can watch great TV on the cheap in the best way possible. (And, you know, we all use Kodi ourselves.) But if you’re squeamish about stepping on the toes of copyright holders (the channels you’ll be watching for nothing with Kodi), bypass this option and pay a small fee with one of the alternatives below.
The WD TV is kind of a "jack of all trades, master of none". It does a good job of playing your own files while being easy to use, streaming from a few different services (but not a lot of them), and being configurable only where it counts. Tech-savvy media center users may find it a little basic, but it's the perfect box for someone who wants more than Apple TV can offer, but without the work that goes into Google TV, Boxee, or a homebrew XBMC box.
DIRECTV NOW was DIRECTV’s way of keeping its satellite TV service available for users who don’t want a dish installed or multi-year contracts. You can use the Just Right package and add HBO (Game of Thrones and Westworld for only $5 more per month instead of $15? Yeah, we’re in). Consider also that you can get your favorite networks like HGTV, Sundance TV, and the Travel Channel. Plus, you can also record up to 20 hours of TV to hold onto for 30 days with the included cloud DVR.
PlayStation Vue’s packages used to be scaled based on whether your market had access to local live channels or not, but now all pricing tiers are priced identically regardless of where you live. The vast majority of markets include at least some live local channels on PS Vue, as the service now offers more than 600 local affiliates. Fox channels, in particular, get a special highlight on the service, with a specialized Fox feed that curates Fox-owned channels like Fox News, FS1, Fox Business, Fox Soccer Plus, and local Fox affiliates into a single feed that includes both live and VOD content. You can find which local channels are available in your area on Sony’s PS Vue page.
With thousands of available “channels,” Roku’s platform connects to virtually every major streaming service online. More importantly, the interface is very intuitive; you can quickly search for content across providers by actor, series, or movie titles, or the specific genre you’re looking for. The Roku interface will even tell you which services offer what you want for free, and which will charge for it. The remote is also super handy, allowing you to control power and volume on most TVs as well as voice search at the press of a button.
Otherwise, it’s fairly standard. Sling Orange subscribers will have access to a single stream, while Blue allows for up to three streams simultaneously. As for other features, VOD (video on demand), pause/rewind/fast forwarding and “catch-up watching” are content specific. For DVR, users will have to add another $5 for 50 hours of cloud DVR. Despite the extra cost, the good news is that cloud DVR is available on just about every Sling TV-supported device except for the Xfinity X1. You can get the gist of everything Sling TV has to offer by reading our Sling TV guide.
Consensus: We'd pay for Hulu just for access to the originals. The thought of that, plus access to live TV and most of the classic channels you'd want from cable anyway (except for Viacom, RIP) isn't a bad gig. However, other premium services like DirecTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer more channels in their base package for the same price (or less), so if you weren't with Hulu in the first place for the non-live stuff, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. But if all you want are some basic news channels plus a few extras, Hulu is where it's at.
We're sure you already have Netflix for binge-watching movies and some TV shows, but that's obviously not a replacement for cable and live television. The streaming service market has grown exponentially over the past few years with too many plans and channel options to pick from, and you're probably panicking and wondering which streaming service is right for you.
The interface is very pretty and shockingly easy to use. Plug in your USB drive and go to "Files" to start playing them. Have some files stored on the network? Just go to Movies or TV shows and add it as a source. Head to Services for streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu movies, MLB, and a few others. The remote is a traditional remote that feels a little cheap, but works as well as you'd expect. The interface is also somewhat configurable, letting you view your movies and shows in a few different list formats.
PS Vue’s biggest selling point is just how many channels you get, boasting the most of any services out there. Plus, you can bolster your services with add-on channels and features. Subscribers to PlayStation Plus (Sony’s premium online service for PS4 and PS3) will get discounts on some of those packages, and some channels are exclusive only to Plus subscribers in the first place. Similarly, PS Vue ties directly into the PS4 interface and the PlayStation ecosystem at large, which makes adopting it almost a no-brainer for PlayStation players looking to add online TV — provided the pricing and channel listings meet your needs.
We don't always think of the major streaming devices as tools for watching local TV, but we really should. Each of the skinny bundles and apps listed above have awesome platform support, meaning that you can grab virtually any service on this list and have it work with whatever streaming device you own – whether that means a Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS device, Android device, or Android TV box (like the Nvidia Shield).
Sling TV organizes its content a little differently from most competitors: instead of a few different tiers, Sling TV starts you off with one of two base packages (you can also get both) and then invites you to build a custom package through its “add-ons.” The “Sling Blue” base package ($25 per month) will get eligible markets live streams from Fox and NBC. The Broadcast Extra add-on to Sling Blue will give subscribers in some markets access to ABC, Univision, and Unimas local broadcasts. Local and regional sports stations are available in various base and add-on packages, too – check out the link below to track down the ones you're most interested in.
For the base price, you get on-demand stuff from almost all of the networks (but not The CW) and even get them live in some markets. There are lots of basic cable stations (minus Viacom-owned stations like SyFy and Comedy Central). Each new tier of service adds more channels, going up to $44.99 to add some sports programming, and $54.99 for 90 channels, ending with $74.99—that Ultra package has those 90 channels plus paid cable services HBO and Showtime (but no Starz) for a little less than adding them separately.